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Best Places To Go Camping In Illinois

The 15 Most Beautiful Campsites In The Us

The 5 Best Places To Go Camping in Illinois

Angelina is a freelance writer based in New York City. You can usually find her on a yoga mat, at the wine store, or off on a new adventure.

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Courtesy of Dunton Destinations

From lakeside vistas and coastal shorelines to desert valleys, national parks, and vastly wooded forests, camping across the United States takes many shapes and forms. Whether youre an avid camper that enjoys getting dirty while immersed in nature, or you want a little more comfort being out in the wild, the scenery and ambiance of your campsite provide an experience that you will likely never forget. If youre looking for a picturesque adventure, these are the 15 most beautiful campsites across the United States.

Devils Kitchen Near Marion

Image from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters on Wikimedia Commons

Of all the water in Illinois available to eager anglers, Devils Kitchen is one of the clearest and the deepest of that lakes in Illinois, and plays host to a flourishing population of rainbow trout and largemouth bass. Sunfish, perch, and bluegill may also be caught from the lake, and a ten horsepower motor limit ensures the lakes stays clear and calm year-round. Given the size, depth, and quality of the lake water, Devils Kitchen is a popular location for bass fishing tournaments, with 6 tournaments being held on the water in 2018.

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Best Places To Visit In Illinois

Located in the Midwest, Illinois is home to Chicago, the third-largest city in the country as well as a major sports and cultural center. Illinois has many smaller industrial cities, bountiful natural resources, and intense agricultural productivity, especially in its central region. Here are the best places to visit in Illinois. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.

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Kickapoo State Recreation Area

Kickapoo State Recreation Area is an outdoor playground for campers. Its one of the few parks in Illinois where you can go scuba diving. Theres also single-track mountain biking, hiking, canoeing, boating and fishing to be done in the area.

Two large campgrounds are available to campers for both tent and RV travelers. There are also primitive walk-in sites if you want a more secluded destination.

Red Cedar Campsite Giant City State Park

40 of the Best Places To Go Camping In Illinois

Tent campers interested in long-distance hiking and scenic views should look no further. This campground is a six-mile hike along the Red Cedar Trail, marking the trails halfway point. Head down the Giant City Nature Trail to explore the prehistoric sandstone bluffs and rock formations referred to as the Giant City Streets. There are also several other trails to explore, some offering rock climbing and horseback riding.

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Lincoln Trail State Park

The Plainview and Lakeside Campgrounds at Lincoln Trail State Park have RV campsites that offer all the creature comforts, including electricity, showers, water, and toilets. Lakeside Campground also has an area set aside for tent camping. Popular activities include fishing, boating, and hiking as well as ice fishing and cross-country skiing in winter.

Trail Of Tears State Forest

Trail of Tears State Forest is situated in Union County, near the town of Jonesboro. The forest is spread across 5000 acres and its lush greens create a serene location for visitors. Camping in the forest is available as primitive camping sites with vehicle access or backpacking sites with no vehicle access.

Activities available include fishing, horseback riding, hiking, and hunting. Permits are required for hunting and are limited to the spring wild turkey hunting season.

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Yogi Bear Jellystone Park Camp Resort Millbrook

Everyones heard of Yogi Bears Jellystone Parks, and this location near Chicago is perfect for a family break with the kids! Pools and planned activities can keep everyone entertained, with mini gold and plenty of nearby places to go hiking and fishing. You can find everything you need for a memorable camping experience.

When staying at Jellystone Park Resort, most campers sleep in their RV. A range of RV sites with different hookups are available, or cabin rentals if you dont have a rig. Well-equipped tent sites are also on offer, with space for two vehicles. The tent campsites also include a fire ring, picnic table, and electrical access.

Illinois is full of colorful prairie and plenty of diverse nature.

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Austin Acres Camp Outback

Best Place to Camp for FREE in Southern Illinois

Affordable family lodging, camping cabins, campers and primitive camping. We are minutes away from Ohio River, Tower Rock Park boat ramp, Elizabethtown boat ramp, good eating places, LakeTucumseh and Woopie Cat, Iron Furnace, Stone Face, Garden of the Gods, Rim Rock, Cave-in-Rock and lots of scenic views. Children and pets welcome.

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Van Buren State Park South Haven Mi

Another Lake Michigan highlight within two hours of Chicago is Van Buren State Park. One mile of sandy beach offers chill-out space as well as tall sand dunes to explore. Nearby, the campground offers 220 sites with electric hookups, picnic tables, and fire rings. The swimming beach is popular with campers in the summer, and boating is another great option. One unique activity this state park offers is metal detecting, so you can search for treasure on your camping trip!

Ferne Clyff State Park

Ferne Clyffe has been known as an outstanding natural scenic spot for nearly 100 years. An abundance of ferns, unique geological features and unusual plant communities create an atmosphere that enhances the many recreational facilities offered at the park. Trails wind through picturesque woods, allowing visitors to view fascinating rock formations and inspiring vistas.

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Illinois Beach State Park Camping

Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois Beach State Park is barely an hour from Chicago and offers camping at the Great Lakes. To be exact, this park is along the shores of Lake Michigan. The sandy shores of Lake Michigan cover 6.5 miles, creating a lovely beach that forms the basis of Illinois Beach State Park camping.

The park is spread across 4,160 acres and being on the shores of the lake, there are a lot of water activities to enjoy. The usual fare of fishing, boating, and swimming is available. Theres even room for Scuba diving! Trails are aplenty, so prepare for your hike or biking adventure. While the shore of Lake Michigan is the biggest draw, there are smaller inland ponds available as well.

This is one of the most popular parks in the state, so its a good idea to make reservations for your stay. The campgrounds have 241 Class A Premium sites with access to electricity, showers, and sanitary facilities. Campsites can host tents or Class A motorhomes.

Apgar Campground Glacier National Park Montana

5 of the Best Places to Camp in Illinois

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

Glacier National Park is a vast array of pristine forests, alpine meadows, lakes, and rugged mountains. Adventurous visitors and campers visiting Montana enter a hikers paradise when coming here. Located under three miles from the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, a scenic mountain road through the Rocky Mountains, Apgar Campground, the largest in the park, is situated amongst the trees and wildlife that ranges from mountain goats to grizzly bears. With day hiking and sunsets on Lake McDonald, guided horseback riding, and kayak rentals, campers will relish in nature.

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Cave In Rock State Park

Cave In Rock State Park gets its name from the stunning water-carved limestone cave. The park has some high bluffs that overlook the Ohio River. That combination is a key to very scenic and memorable views. Add in the unique experience of the cave, and youve got a memory of a lifetime.

Several picnic and playground areas dot the park. The campground hosts 34 Class A sites with enough room for 60-feet RVs and electric hookup. Some class Class B/S tent sites are available as well.

Camping In Southern Illinois State Parks

The best camping in the state can be found in Southern Illinois. This is the place to go if you love outdoor adventure. Activities like camping, hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, fishing, climbing and hunting are popular in the area. There are a variety of state parks with campgrounds ranging from basic tent sites to full-featured RV campgrounds.

Southern IL Campgrounds
Wayne Fitzgerrell

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Dunton River Camp Dolores Colorado

Courtesy Dunton Destinations

Located on a former cattle ranch from the late 1800s, Dunton River Camp is a luxury compound in Colorado that offers an adventure that is more glamping than camping. Intended those who want to immerse themselves in nature without sacrificing modern comforts, the ranch allows campers their own mountain bikes, access to hiking trails around the property, and the opportunity to get dirty but freshen up in their en-suite bathroom with soaker tub and showerbest of both worlds. A large portion of the land is still used for cattle grazing, while the rest is home to tent sites, and the original farmhouse spread out across fields on the West Fork of the Dolores River.

Chillicothe Rv & Recreation Area

Best Campsites at Kickapoo State Park Illinois

With more than 70 acres of water in three separate spring-fed lakes, this Illinois RV park has a little something for everyone. Activities include fishing for walleye or bluegills to swimming or enjoying a game of volleyball in the sand of the parks private beach. This park even offers freshwater scuba diving.

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Illinois Destinations: Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site

A World Heritage Site, Cahokia Mounds is the largest and most complex archeological site in the United States. It is directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis and was once a pre-Columbian Native American city from c. 600-1400 AD when it was home to the Mississippian people.

At its peak in the mid-1200s, Cahokia was home to more than 40,000 people, a population greater than mid-1200s London, England. The site is characterized by huge mounds that had significance to the people who lived here a life-size village replica can be explored, and the excellent museum has an informative video, original artifacts, and information about the daily lives of the inhabitants of Cahokia. A self-guided audio tour of the site is available, and there are walking trails and a gift shop.

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Places To Visit In Illinois: Lincolns Tomb

Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was born on February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky. Largely self-taught, he passed the Illinois Bar and began his career as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois under the tutelage of his wifes cousin, John T. Stuart. Before and after his terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Lincoln and his partner had a successful law practice in Springfield, and it was in this town that he married and had four children.

Abraham Lincoln was elected President on November 6, 1860 and led the country through the Civil War. On April 14, 1865, he was assassinated by a Confederate sympathizer in a Washington, D.C. theater, and his body was brought home by train to Springfield at the request of his wife. Lincolns Tomb is in Oakridge Cemetery and is open to visitors year-round.

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Opossum Creek Recreation Area

Located on the western shore of Lake Shelbyville, Opossum Creek offers some of the best lakeside tent camping in Illinois. Although the site offers both tent and RV camping with electric hookups, there are some tent-only, non-electric sites available for those seeking a more primitive experience. Children under 12 will love the campgrounds small fishing pond with accessible dock.

Camping Near Rend Lake

40 of the Best Places to Go Camping in Illinois

Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park offers 17 primitive tent sites that are perfect for anglers seeking an up-close fishing experience. For car-campers, the state park offers 243 developed campsites, complete with electrical hookups and bathroom and shower facilities. Campsites are reservable on a first-come, first-served basis.

The campground offers a wide variety of sites from RV to primitive. For a tent camper, spots were level and nice. The facilities are clean and well maintained. The camp is close to the lake and offers several places to throw your pole in. There is a short hiking trail that will take you to the resort. All in all a nice place to stay.The Dyrt Camper Chad K.

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Beautiful Backpack Camping Spots In Illinois

Illinois offers plenty of opportunities for backpacking in the many scenic landscapes throughout the state. With such a wide variety of landscapes and natural habits available, backpackers are afforded a diversity of camping experiences. From state parks to wilderness areas, Illinois makes an excellent place for primitive camping. Here are five beautiful backpacking spots in the state.

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Why Youll Love Sunset Lakes Resort

Sunset Lakes has everything you need to have a fun-filled trip. Spend the day on the water at this park with five fishing lakes, kayaking, canoeing, paddle boating, and an outdoor pool. Get some exercise in at the fitness center or by playing basket and tennis. With so many choices, youll always be entertained!

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Free Camping In National Forests Of Illinois

While primitive tent camping and even car camping opportunities are relatively abundant in the Shawnee National Forest, free campgrounds suitable for RVs are limited. Turkey Bayou, along the Big Muddy River, provides free camping in the campground itself and potential dispersed camping along nearby forest roads. These are your best bet at finding any type of solitude when it comes to free RV camping areas across Illinois. However, as the nearby river’s name indicates, doing so is seasonal and getting stuck in the mud is a real hazard.

Always scout ahead before driving down dirt roads, and plan ahead in general. If this is your first time boondocking, you’ll want to become familiar with the etiquette and best practices of such an endeavor.

Letchworth State Park Finger Lakes New York


Considered the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park is a majestic area to camp, centered around the Genesee River, which roars over three major waterfalls, with cliffs as high as 600 feet in some places. Campers can choose between campsites or cabins in secluded areas, with access to amenities including showers, food concessions, picnic tables, pavilions, playing fields, a playground, and a swimming pool. Many areas are pet friendly. Surrounded by lush forests, hikers can choose among 66 miles of hiking trails, with more trails available for horseback riding and biking. With plenty of activities all in one location, Letchworth also offers whitewater rafting, kayaking, hot air ballooning, and a museum.

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Mississippi Palisades State Park Savanna Il

The Mississippi Palisades State Park is known for its limestone caves, steep cliffs, and intriguing rock formations. Rich in American Indian history, this 2,500-acre state park is teeming with wildlife including many bird species such as eagles, woodpeckers, and wild turkeys. There are over 240 campsites available and two youth camping areas. Fishing, rock climbing, boating, picnicking, and hiking trails are just some of the activities available for campers.

Places To Visit In Illinois: Galena

Galena, Illinois is a small city of under 4,000 inhabitants in the most northwestern corner of the state. More than 85% of this historic town is a National Historic District, and it is renowned for its architecture and its long mining history. Before Europeans settled here in 1821, Native Americans mined the area for over a thousand years, and they brought the mineral galena, a lead oxide, out of the earth.

Settlers continued to mine, and for the sake of commerce, Galena became a major steamboat port on the Mississippi River. Now visited for its history and its beautiful homes, Galena has a stunning main street featuring six blocks of French Colonial, Greek Revival, and Italianate homes, one of which belonged to Ulysses S. Grant, the 14th president of the United States. Surrounded by rolling hills and lush valleys, Galena is a wonderful place to visit or live. Things to Do in Galena

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